from The Worldview Literacy Book   copyright 2009            back to worldview theme(s) #46


#46A: A technological fix refers to solving a problem by using technology.   By technology we mean what humans do to gain control over nature & their environment, and the special know-ledge, tools,  means employed by people to provide goods & services for human sustenance and comfort (Figure #46a).  Early technological advances involved using tools to make other tools.  Making tools (such as levers) allowed humans to work more efficiently, and use sources of energy besides the mechanical energy human muscles supply.  We note humans harnessing 1) chemical energy stored in wood with control of fire (~one million years ago),  2) electromagnetic energy (electricity, ~150 years ago), and 3) nuclear energy.  This last milestone was reached in 1942 with the first manmade, control-led nuclear chain reaction. Three years later the explosive release of such energy helped end World War II—an event some label the darkest moment in the history of technology.

     Recent chapters in that history have involved critics— beginning with Luddites: the "machine smashers" of the 19th century revolt against inhumane working conditions in factories.  Modern critics associate technology's dark side with its inappropriate use and argue it's a mistake to look solely for technological fixes to problems having both technological and human societal dimensions.  Some prefer finding attitudinal fixes (see theme #47A); others link certain technologies to environmental problems and look to appropriate technology for solutions.  Many anti-technologists fear modern technology (particularly genetic engineering) gives human beings power to "play God."  

     Technologists see technologies as tools neither good or bad, and argue it's what people do with them that can be questioned.  Over the last century technology has greatly extended average human life spans, made life easier and spared people lots of drudgery.  More recently, computer technology has made a vast amount of knowledge readily available to everyone, greatly aided learning and understanding.  This is making the world a better place, they contend.  Recognizing the seriousness of the global warming problem, rather than promote lifestyle changes, some technologists prefer carbon mitigation strategies (Figure #40a), others opt for geo-engineering (Figure #25a) approaches.          

#46B:  War is rooted in aggression, notably territorial aggression.  The first wars were tribal turf battles fought with sticks and stones.  According to E. O. Wilson, "War can be defined as the violent rupture of the intricate and powerful fabric of territorial taboos observed by social groups.  The force behind most warlike policies is ethnocentrism, the irrationally exaggerated allegiance of individuals to their kin and fellow tribesmen."  

     Around 1,000 years ago people began developing gun powder (concentrated chemical energy) based military technology.  The next millennium saw nations increasingly using military science to more effectively wage war.  With World War II raging, in his classic A Study of War, Quincy Wright wrote


wrote "From a technological point of view war is a violent encounter of powers...Each belligerent power is conceived as a military hierarchy, the units of which are the individual soldiers and workers, who through discipline, respond automatically to the word of command ...Each power thus resembles a single great machine."  Whereas the first wars involved hand to hand combat, warfare has evolved with technology and killing has steadily gotten less personal.  But it can still involve face to face contact with the enemy: see Figure #46b.

     If World War III is ever fought, it could involve a few hands pushing buttons and initiating the delivery of nuclear weapons by missiles that travel thousands of miles before striking tar-gets.  This would immediately kill hundreds of millions, and ultimately billions of people.  Is there a technological fix to prevent that from happening?  "Yes!" say proponents of the U.S. nuclear missile defense program (known as "Star Wars" technology).  "No!" say opponents. "Hitting missiles traveling thousands of mi/hr with other missiles is too daunting a task, and the required hardware too expensive!"  They prefer finding attitudinal fixes and preventing such missiles from being launched in the first place.  If they are launched on a massive scale, many scientists believe, environmental effects of nuclear war would be such that the next war—if any humans are around to fight it—will again be fought with sticks and stones! 

Note:  Some military leaders do not fully buy into this world-view theme, notably those who prefer diplomacy to war! 

Figure #46a: Technology: Inputs, Outputs

Figure #46b: Six Articles from the United States Army Code of Conduct 

I.  I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life.  I am prepared to give my life in their defense.


IV.  If I become a prisoner of war, I will keep faith with my fellow prisoners.  I will give no information or take part in any action which might be harmful to my comrades.  If I am senior, I will take command.  If not, I will obey the lawful orders of those appointed over me and will back them up in every way.



II.  I will never surrender of my own free will. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command while they still have the means to resist.

V. When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give name, rank, service number, and date of birth.  I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability.  I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause.



III.  If I am captured I will continue to resist by all means available.  I will make every effort to escape and to aid others to escape.  I will accept neither parole nor special favors from the enemy.


VI.  I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free.  I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.


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